Unlike the recent post modern age previous humans to this generation commonly pondered important life questions. Even the ones that questioned rationality itself. Just consider these words from David Hume, a preeminent enlightenment philosopher:
Where am I, or what? From what causes do I derive my existence, and to what condition shall I return? ... I am confounded with all these questions, and begin to fancy myself in the most deplorable condition imaginable, environed with the deepest darkness, and utterly deprived of the use of every member and faculty. - David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
Being human in the past once entailed a fundamental desire to think carefully about ideas and where ideas might or might not lead. Presently, however, post modern humans are drowning themselves endlessly with visual entertainment, the pursuit of self, and subjective/relative thinking. (i.e. Narcissistic hedonism + Moral relativism + Autonomous individualism). The result, objective thinking about essential ideas has been sent to the corner until it can learn to be anti-intellectual, accept illogic without question, and surrender objectivity. From the atheist to the skeptic to the theist, sects from every worldview are currently guilty of frowning upon proper thought about basic life questions with basic thinking tools. Almost no group is exempt from the post modern pattern of exchanging objective truth/knowing for subjective-emotional-mental comforts grounded in experiential highs. All of this is occurring while time marches on and death ends each of us without exception. Or, is death the end?
All humans want true knowledge, but today people are being hypnotized by the secular elites, force feeding answers to the masses, from academic towers. From below, the average person will simply accept shallow slogans and canned ideas with little regard to the science of philosophy (i.e. how to think about ideas). Thus, most of us are told what to think, and then think it. Few are taught the skill of thinking anymore and then go about thinking and questioning.
Not skilled enough to think critically, post modern humans will accept any old idea as good enough. Especially, when good enough is determined by the whims of each individual person. Worse, many have thrown the entire enterprise of thinking to the flames claiming true knowledge isn’t even knowable. All is illusory. Yet, how does one know everything is illusory if everything is an illusion? Ironically, this is all occurring in a time of vast scientific discovery and information overload.
For those few that do stop for a moment and ponder grand ideas, they will typically start with a couple foundational questions:
- From where or whom did I come?
- What am I?
- Where am I going?
Each of these questions could invoke a lifetime of thought. Each is certainly worth thinking about. However, only one of these questions is of first order importance. One could get all the answers to all the questions wrong and only live a short time with false ideas, then die, and that could be the end of it. No problem, right? Ignorance and then total death. If death be the complete end, who cares about ignorance. Pleasure or whatever one desires, then rules the day, as it should, if death be the total end.
But what if one lives indefinitely? And, what if where we go after death is dependent upon the questions we ask while alive and the answers to which we trust? We all know that the ideas we hold true fuel how we think and act today.
In short, ideas do have consequences. That is obvious, right? But, what if the consequences from our trust in the answers to life's biggest questions go on effecting us after death? It would seem then, that one should seek the right answers to life's most important questions carefully and diligently. Each of us has a gamble to make in this regard. Either, we believe living continues after death or we don’t. One's answer to this pivotal question will influence all other questions and answers. And potentially effect us indefinitely into the future. Thus, you should care about ideas that invoke grand questions and the potential answers. Is the final answer pertaining to physical death that one dies, and that death is the final end of being? Does one have good reason to settle upon this answer and question no more? Or, is it more rational that we have knowledge about being, post death?
It might seem like I am trying to scare you and to some degree I am. But only so that you might start thinking and thinking for yourself.
I assert everyone should think carefully, with the right tools, about the basic philosophical ideas, the circling questions, and the potential answers. Much is at risk, isn't it? An indefinite future with false answers could be indefinitely undesirable.
If we can agree that one has good reason to care about the fundamental philosophical questions of existence due to the potential consequences, we can then begin the process of acquiring the proper tools for thinking. If this is done rationally, I believe one will eventually use these tools to find the truth and simultaneously the truth will find them.